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Commercial, Criminal, ERISA and Immigration Cases

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By FindLaw Staff on March 22, 2010 5:12 PM

Clifton v. Holder, No. 08-3726, involved a petition for review of the BIA's order denying petitioner's motion to remand to the immigration judge (IJ) and dismissing her appeal of the IJ's denial of her motion to reopen removal proceedings.  The Eighth Circuit granted the petition, holding that the BIA abused its discretion by refusing to remand and reopen removal proceedings solely on the ground that the BIA lacked jurisdiction over an application for adjustment of status that had been filed with and was pending before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Pinnacle Pizza Co. v. Little Caesar's Enters., Inc., No. 08-3999, concerned an action by a franchisee alleging, inter alia, breach of the corporation's franchise agreement and violation of the South Dakota Franchise Act, and seeking to cancel a trademark held by defendant.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that 1) franchise agreements restricting a franchisor from using a franchisee's "original advertising materials" are materially different from an installment or commission contract; and 2) although a reasonable jury could find that defendant knew plaintiff believed that it had rights to the trademarked phrase when defendant submitted its trademark application, this was not sufficient to show bad faith on defendant's part.

In US v. Wisecarver, No. 09-1954, the court of appeals reversed defendant's conviction for depredation of government property, on the ground that a supplemental instruction given by the district court was plainly erroneous, because it misstated the law by instructing the jury to find defendant guilty if it found he used justifiable force to defend himself or his property.

Jobe v. Med. Life Ins. Co., No. 08-3505, involved an ERISA action challenging defendant's denial of plaintiff's claim for long-term disability benefits.  The court of appeals reversed summary judgment for defendant, holding that the district court should have applied a de novo standard of review because the plan did not vest the plan administrator with the power to exercise discretionary authority in making benefits determinations.

In US v. Williams, No. 09-1100, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's crack cocaine conspiracy sentence, on the ground that defendant was not entitled to a further sentence reduction under the modified crack cocaine Sentencing Guidelines because his sentence was based on a binding Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement.

In US v. Nadeau, No. 09-1599, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's convictions for assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault with a dangerous weapon, holding that 1) a metal pipe admitted at trial was relevant because it had the tendency to make the existence of defendant's attack on the victim more probable and it had a tendency to prove that the attack was carried out by employing a dangerous weapon; and 2) the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion in determining that the pipe's probative value was not substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.

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